How to Become a Registered Cardiovascular Technician

Learn how to become a registered cardiovascular technician. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career as a registered cardiovascular technician.

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Should I Become a Registered Cardiovascular Technician?

Cardiovascular technicians use imaging machines and technology to diagnose and treat cardiac problems; this may include the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Technicians assist cardiologists, and specific duties may include answering patient questions, performing ultrasound procedures, recognizing abnormal images, inserting catheters, recording findings, and passing on results to physicians.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Name Cardiovascular technology
Certification Most employers prefer certification through Cardiovascular Credentialing International
Key Skills Ability to communicate effectively with patients, follow instructions and keep accurate records; know how to work ultrasound machines and other cardiovascular equipment
Salary (2015) $40,595 per year (median)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings in July 2012.

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

An associate's degree in cardiovascular technology combines academic coursework and laboratory training. Students have an opportunity to learn about various cardiac diseases and symptoms, diagnostic procedures and aseptic techniques. Laboratory work takes place at area hospitals or on-campus clinics. Specific courses include EKG analysis, cardiovascular care, cardiovascular hemodynamics, echocardiography, ultrasound principles and cardiovascular agents.

Success Tip:

  • Choose a specialization. During the second year of the program, you'll have the option to decide whether you want to specialize in invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular technology. Invasive cardiology involves inserting catheters inside a patient, while non-invasive cardiology involves ultrasound and EKG equipment.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

In order to obtain experience in the field, students in a cardiovascular technology program need to complete an internship in a medical setting. This is an opportunity for students to work and learn under an experienced cardiovascular technician and begin interacting with patients. During an internship, students can apply what they've learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. As students gain more experience, they'll be allowed to have more responsibilities during their internship.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Many employers prefer to hire certified technicians. Graduates of a cardiovascular technology program can pursue the Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) or the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) designation. Applicants for each designation must demonstrate proof of graduation from an accredited cardiovascular technology program in addition to employment verification. Those who are specializing in non-invasive cardiac technology pursue the RCS, while invasive technicians can obtain the RCIS. Each designation requires that individuals pass an examination. Certification in multiple specialties can increase opportunities for advancement.

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